Ilana Mercer (also forward to Tamar Jacoby, if possible):
I am writing to you about your 14 November 2004 vdare.com article Muslim Immigration Time Bomb (http://www.vdare.com/misc/mercer_041113_muslim.htm). I agree with your degree of alarm over the legal and illegal immigration of Muslims into America. However, I want to take issue with some points you made, explicit and implicit.
I am a Texan whose parents' ancestry was a Scottish, English, Irish, German, Cherokee mix. As far as I know, I'm not in the least Semitic. My father was Christian Scientist and my mother Baptist. I was reared to be a Baptist. When I was a kid, I thought that, being Christian, I was also Jewish, just as Jesus was.
You see, "Jewish" is a religion, not a race. Your writing makes it seem that you think it is a race. Anybody can become a Jew simply by ascribing to Jewish beliefs. Most people of Hebrew descent think of themselves as Jews (as a racial group), but many of them are Christians or Muslims these days. Semitic people include descendants of the ancient Hebrews as well as racial subgroups in the Arabic Peninsula, Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula, North Africa, Syria, and Iraq. And when you look at who constitutes Jews today, you find many people of mixed racial and national ancestry. Sephardic Jews, for example, are dark-skinned people descended partly from the Moors who invaded Spain and married Jews there.
It is unfortunate that the word Jew has such an indefinite definition. I believe the typical meaning of "Jew" to most Americans is the Ashkenazi Jew, and that definitely is a racial group. Judging from your article, you are in that group.
Until the 1950s American and European Jews of any kind have been persecuted and/or oppressed. I believe the reasons for this were:
1. The clannish nature of Jews - they typically marry and socialize only other Jews of their religion and if possible, only other Jews of their race.
2. The religious nature of Jews - they adhere to religious traditions that make them seem outlandish to others -grooming, attire, social customs, beliefs, rituals.
3. The intelligence of Jews - with an average IQ of 115 among Ashkenazi Jews, most are smarter than nearly everybody else, and so they rise to the top in whatever they undertake.
4. The physical characteristics of Jews - facial features tend to make them stand out from other racial groups.
5. The social nature of Jews - Jews seem universally regarded, even by fellow Jews, as tightwads and shrewd negotiators.
No one is to be blamed for the above characteristics, and only Jews can control their social and religious natures. One cannot rightly tolerate oppression and/or persecution for any of the above characteristics.
However, if we contrast Jews with their arch-enemies, Arabic Muslims, we see similar characteristics. It is true that Muslims claim to have a different religion, but they honor the same prophets and pray to the same God. They are regarded as tightwads. They are arrogant about their religion and its practices. They are endogamous, clannish, and tribal. Many of them are quite intelligent. They have similar physical characteristics, though many of them show Negroid ancestry.
So why is it that Jews and Muslims don't get along with each other? And what could be done to set the stage for social harmony between them? Before addressing that, I want to share a little about my background and understanding about religion and Judaism.
I am no longer a Christian. Those are words I once thought I'd never say.
I was so absolutely certain Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins that I knew I'd burn in hell if I ever forsake such a belief. Do you recognize anything familiar to your Jewish religion about that belief of mine? It is the practice of sacrifice.
Paul of Tarsus ignored the teachings of Jesus about salvation through the faith-embrace of Sonship with God when he formulated his infamous atonement doctrine. That doctrine is based on belief in the efficacy of the sacrificial death of Jesus, and it is founded on fear of burning in hell forever. It is a religious philosophy that resurrected the practice of human sacrifice from the pagan roots of the Hebrew people.
Much work had been done to eliminate the practice of sacrifice. Abraham was a firm believer in human sacrifice and nearly murdered his son Isaac to appease God. Five hundred years later, Moses instituted the ransom payment in order to wean the Hebrews from the abhorrent practice of murdering or giving to the priesthood their firstborn sons so God would somehow favor them and not stomp on them in vengeful anger for their miserable sins. 1500 years later, Jesus initiated the bread and wine sacrament, a take-off from the Passover feast, to wean his followers finally and fully from the practice of ritual sacrifice.
Think about that. How does sacrifice make any sense? No self-respecting Jew would ever openly question whether, how, or why God would or could be bribed by a sacrifice of any kind to show leniency or favor to his wayward chosen people, but it is a valid question. Why would God, as Paul seemed to believe, require the sacrificial death of his only begotten son, a being nearly his equal, if what Jesus said were true, to atone for sins of others? Where's the justice in that? What need has God of any kind of sacrifice? And even if God demand a sacrifice for appeasement, and if Jesus were in fact divine, wouldn't that be like sacrificing himself to himself, a divine being to another divine being? How does that make sense.
It doesn't, which is why I am neither a Christian nor a Jew. I don't think it ever made sense, and I don't believe God ever demanded anything of his earth children but righteousness - the sincere pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Most Jews might say monotheism was the core of Judaism. Originally it was, but that changed. The core was the necessity and practice of sacrifice - the pre-Jewish pagan notion of the efficacy of killing a perfect creature to appease God. Sacrifice was the ultimate substitute for righteousness God apparently craved. It was so powerful a linchpin in the Jewish religion that Jews were slavishly bound to it.
Now, inexplicably, and thankfully, Jews no longer practice sacrifice. The racial connection and remaining religious rituals are the main things that bind the Jews of the world together today. Any non-Jew can believe in God, but only Jews have their particular laws and rituals. That, and the fact that so many of the laws make no sense in our modern world, is why so many Jews are becoming less Jewish as time goes by. An enormous number of Jews are not religious at all. Many have drifted over to Christianity. A scant few have wandered over to Islam. A huge number are marrying gentiles of one kind or another. And, Jews do not proselytize. Jewish identity seems to be slowly disappearing.
Therefore, why should people worry that Muslims are so direly opposed to Jews? Why can't Jews, Muslims, and Christians get along with one another?
Until America was founded, providing religious freedom, Jews had as much to fear from Christians as from Muslims. Members of either group would oppress, persecute, and malign them. Because of freedoms guaranteed by the government, that no longer happens. Government-imposed religious freedom is a good thing.
But, as we know from the looting that is going on right now in hurricane-devastated New Orleans and Biloxi, once the government turns its head for an instant, people immediately revert to dog-eat-dog criminality. Today it's the looting. Tomorrow it's the pogroms against the Jews.
How can Jews, Muslims, and Christians be made to get along with and respect one another?
There is a way that people in general can be encouraged to be loving to each other in spite of their religious, racial, and social differences, and without the need for government force.
1. That way is: start seeing all humans as brothers and sisters.
2. That can only happen if people start seeing God as their Heavenly Father.
Of the three religions in question, Christianity is the only one that fosters that belief. Why? Because even though Christianity is blighted by its abhorrent atonement doctrine, Christians nevertheless do believe what Jesus taught was true.
And let's not forget that nearly all of the earliest followers of Jesus were Jews. That is because his teachings were not at all alien to Judaism. They just ennobled it a bit because they appealed to the noblest religious notions of the Jews: a belief in the basic goodness of God and in the goodness of righteous, moral living. Those same noble religious notions can also be found in Islam, and in other religions as well.
One of my main reasons for writing to you is to refocus just a bit on the salient elements of those teachings of Jesus for the purpose of illustrating how the strife between Christians, Muslims and Jews can be brought gradually to an end. I have summarized it above. It is his so-called gospel, good news for the Jews and the rest of mankind. Jesus began by saying "Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand." According to all existing first-hand testimony, Jesus' "Gospel of the Kingdom of God" consisted of three elements (let me know if you want to see scriptural proof):
1. Acceptance of the reality of the Fatherhood of God.
2. Belief in the fact of the Brotherhood of Man.
3. Faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to do the Father's will - to be like God.
What in those three points is alien to the spirit of Judaism or Islam? Nothing. They were then and are now good news to all religionists, particularly Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Here's why:
1. Fatherhood of God -
a. Christians already believe this, but the belief is weakened by the philosophically opposing atonement doctrine. Jews and Muslims do not really see God as a Heavenly Father, but more as an all-powerful, mostly beneficent king, and sometimes as a whimsical tyrant. They both believe humans are just God's subjects and he will smash them if they make him mad. Muslims think God has no children (Muhammad was speaking of physical / genetic offspring), so they join Jews in believing Jesus was just a good prophet and not any special son of God. They believe God makes people do the evil, iniquitous things they do. Muslims and Jews claim God loves them, but they wonder how that could be possible when he wantonly and randomly called for the extensive oppression, robbery, rape, enslavement, torture, and murder of his people. What loving God would do that? They say he loves them, but they don't really believe it. They believe he would love them if they were obedient to him. However, all Jews know it is impossible to live by those 613 laws, and Muslims know unrighteous they themselves are from time to time. In other words, they think God only truly loves them and treats them lovingly when they are righteous to his level of expectation.
b. The idea that God is a Heavenly Father automatically means all humans are his children and that he loves them and cherishes them as all fathers do their children. They are not merely his subjects, and since they are his children, then can rightfully expect to grow up spiritually to be like him. This means the universe is a friendly place for them, not fraught with spiritual danger the way it would be if God were merely a divine king and not a father. This is truly good news for both Jews and Muslims, for they can know that God will no more be hateful and whimsically mean to an erring earth child than would a typical, sane parent to his child.
c. Jesus taught that a spirit fragment of the Heavenly Father indwells the human mind, planning that human's ideal eternal destiny and encouraging the human to go in that direction. In fact, I found 18 references in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that attest to the reality of a divine indwelling of man, so the concept is neither new nor exclusive to Jesus. Muslims claim they believe "The Book" but they don't believe a spirit fragment of the Father indwells their minds, and neither do Jews. Christians give it lip-service, but have no idea what it means. The value of the belief in the indwelling spirit of the Father is that it encourages people to behave and do the right things in life. This belief, fully embraced, can be a powerful influence in resolving difficulties between Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
2. Brotherhood of Man -
a. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are taught the principles of human brotherhood, but among Jews and Muslims it is radically circumscribed. Jews have traditionally interpreted "Love your neighbor as yourself" to mean a Jew should love only fellow Jews, and many have taken that limited definition to mean it is okay with God if they demean, cheat, and even malign non-Jews. Muslims see a "brother" as being only a fellow Muslim. The Qur'an teaches them not to make friends of Jews and Christians, nor with any other non-Muslims who oppose the religion and political force of Islam.
b. Jesus taught that all human beings are our brothers and sisters, and that we should love them and serve them unselfishly and lovingly. He plainly stated that will give us a high estate in heaven. Even the Jewish lawyer to whom he told the Good Samaritan story ended up fully agreeing that the hated good Samaritan was more of a neighbor than the Jews who passed by the beaten and robbed fellow Jew without helping him. To Muslims and Jews, even today, this tenet of the gospel is startlingly good news because it means they now have the motive (as they always did, had they attended to the spirit of their religious teachings) to be good and loving to their fellow humans. It should be clear to you that an embrace of this tenet of the gospel is the key to settling disputes between Muslims and Jews, for it makes the psychological barriers between them dissolve.
3. Faith -
a. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe God exists, but they do not have faith that if they strive to be like God they can be like him to the extent their individual capacities allow. Most Jews don't even believe in a life after human death, as thought this is all there is. Muslims actually believe they can go to heaven for oppressing, torturing, and murdering any who resist Islam, for that is "holy" jihad, or struggle against injustice. Even though Jesus couched his gospel in the principle of non-resistance to evil, and even though Muslims claim to believe the gospel, they don't really believe it because the Qur'an is so riddled with instances of Muslims mistreating others just because they are not Muslims. Many religionists are so mired in the utter injustice of fighting against others that they forget their obligation to try to be good. And what is being good all about? It is about being like God.
b. Jesus knew nobody had ever met God. So he patiently explained that he came here with a message of good news from God. Whether or not you believe that, you cannot dispute the wisdom of such a message. Purportedly on orders from God, Jesus encouraged people to have faith that if they sincerely try to discern and do the Father's will, they will become more perfect, or more like God. He plainly exhorted them to be perfect and to "sin no more," as though that were a reasonable expectation. He implied that there was some divine purpose in this, but he did not say what it was. The clearest example of what can happen to such humans who succeed in their striving to find, know, love, and be like God is in the incredible achievements of Enoch, who "walked with God", and Elijah, who achieved terrestrial escape in a "chariot of fire." Apparently, neither of those men had further need of human existence, for they had achieved their purpose for human life - they had developed balanced and majestic personalities. This is good news for all religionists who are devoted to the discovery and embrace of supreme values, for it means they can leave this world without having to die as most people do, and they can go on to the adventures that await them in Heaven. And it is especially good news for Jews and Muslims because it means they can get on with showing their innate abilities to demonstrate a divine and loving nature to one another.
The above gospel portrays a family of God more than a kingdom of God, and it asserts that we are all in the family together.
What does that have to do with your article? This: Muslims do not seem to realize they are in your family. You bemoan the immigration of Muslims because you know that they are singularly ignorant of the principles of the gospel of Jesus, and that even if they knew it, they would not abide by it because it is not spelled out in the Qur'an, and other comments in the Qur'an undermine Muslim devotion to the gospel.
However, you cannot deny that if all Christians, Jews, and Muslims took to heart the above tenets of the gospel, conditions between warring people and ideologies would dramatically improve, and war between them would come to an end. It seems to me that you would do far better to become an evangelist for that gospel than by merely complaining about the immigration problem. Maybe you can do both at the same time. But, you can hardly expect to be effective if you keep ignoring the gospel message while writing your articles.
My point here is that the gospel of Jesus is still the good news today that it was 2000 years ago, its tenets do not oppose basic Judasim or Islam, and you have no valid reason for not embracing and promoting it. I am certain that you, as a Jew in both race and religion, embrace that gospel in your personal, private thinking. You are undoubtedly quite intelligent, and you can see the sense and wisdom of the gospel, but how shall you get Muslims interested in it?
Here is just one idea. You can start telling Muslims these things:
1. The Qur'an promotes the gospel which Jesus brought from Allah, and commands all Muslims to embrace it.
2. Because Muslims do not know what the gospel is, they cannot abide by it, and therefore they must learn it.
3. Militant Muslims who might know the gospel ignoring it because they cannot know it from the Qur'an.
4. This gospel… (tell them what it is, and encourage them to follow it) enables Muslims to embrace their Sonship with God as his Spiritual offspring, and they really can become like God merely by sincerely striving each moment to discern and do his will..
Oops, can you do that and still be a good Jew? I don't know why not. Jesus was a good Jew. The gospel does not oppose the core principles of Judaism. The only problem is that you will have to dip into some resource other than the Tanach to find it so you can tell Muslims where to look it up so as to learn more about it.
Muslims all claim they believe the gospel, so when you imply or state they are ignoring it, you can stimulate them to learn about and follow it. The Qur'an preaches that the gospel of Jesus is good. By threatening humiliation on the day of judgment, Muhammad warned all Muslims to embrace it. Muslims know they ought to embrace it.
Unfortunately, the Qur'an, the Hadiths, and the Sunnahs do not specifically state what that gospel is. Presumably, Muhammad meant for Muslims to learn the gospel from some other source. Most Muslims assume the Qur'an merely restates the gospel without identifying its tenets. They are wrong. I have looked, and it is not codified there.
It is also unfortunate that the New Testament talks about the gospel a lot without enumerating its tenets. That is why Christians, if you ask them, will not clearly give you the 1-2-3 of the gospel as I have in my comments above. You have to study Jesus' teachings in the New Testament's four records (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) about him in order to arrive at a proper understanding.
Or, you can dig into the only other record of his life and teachings, one with much better credentials than the New Testament: The Urantia Book (http://urantiabook.org), or you can download a Windows help file version at http://bobhurt.com/urantia.chm. The Urantia Book is a masterpiece of American language literature, it is philosophically consistent from cover to cover, and it purports itself to be the fifth major revealing of truth to this world. The last section of the book, about a third of the overall content, is devoted to the life and teachings of Jesus. There you will find the most complete, concise, succinct, and accurate rendering of his life and teachings. It covers the gospel specifically.
I have spent my whole morning writing this message to you. I hope you can take it to heart and use the gospel to good advantage in encouraging benign relations between Muslims and other people of this world. Certainly a lot of Jews will listen to you, and so might some good Muslims. One Muslim who might be a good listener is Kamal Nawash, president of the Free Muslims Coalition (http://freemuslims.org). I'm sending him a copy of this.
I hope you will pass this message on to all Jews and Muslims of influence. They need to know that the gospel was not intended just for Christians, but for all mankind, and it is ultimately the only path to peace and harmony in our world. It eclipses all other tenets of religion, even while it offends none that are noble. It is worthy of your efforts.